Fresno, California 2020-11-19 14:42:03 –
Several churches in the Fresno region plan to offer indoor services this weekend, despite the county being demoted to the most restrictive COVID class earlier this week.
According to the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” restaurants, various businesses, and churches are not allowed to provide indoor services in the “purple” layer.
The state website is pretty specific about the place of worship. “You can open it outdoors just by modifying it.”
Nonetheless, pastors of the People’s Church, Well Church, and New Covenant Community Church all say they are rolling out indoor services this weekend.
Madera’s Lifebridge Community Church is taking a hybrid approach, opening a large “garage door” built into the church building on the North Campus to create an “outdoor” environment, said Senior Rev. Kevin Foster. Said in a Facebook video message.
“Health officials in Fresno County said that if birds could fly on one side and the other side of the building, they considered it outdoors,” Foster said. “We give people the option to sit inside the building, but there is a huge garage door on the back of the building and three garage doors on the front.”
Brad Bell, Chief Vicar of the Well Church, posted an online video outlining his position on November 1st.
“At his point in time, the outlook for the gospel we think of is hampered,” says Bell. “Yes, we will meet in person, but we will continue to offer it not only online but also outdoors.”
He believes the church has adhered to everything so far during the pandemic, but says it’s time to go another way.
“We don’t want to grab a torch or rake and rebel. This is not a statement,” says Bell. “We are not trying to rebel and raise our fists. This simply means that we shut down for seven months as requested.”
An email to Well’s congregation on Wednesday said indoor service would continue, although “a face cover is needed now.”
The People’s Church posted a message on their website to answer questions about their plans for service.
“We will continue our indoor meetings in the auditorium at 9am and 11am,” the statement said. “We require all staff and major front-line volunteers to always wear masks, except when communicating from the platform or leading songs.”
The church does not require members to wear masks, but “humbly demands and strongly encourages all attendees to do the same.”
New Covenant Community Church
Senior Vicar Scott Bowman emailed his congregation that he understood that COVID-19 continued to cause friction.
“There is no doubt that this will affect the increasing number on Sunday morning, but conscientiously I can’t stop the direct gathering,” Bowman wrote. “Uncertainty and constant change have led me to draw a line in the sand. I understand that there are different opinions and legitimate feelings about COVID, the governor, and his guidelines.”
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